HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and if left untreated can lead to AIDS which is fatal. There are different ways in which you can get HIV, namely unprotected sex with an infected partner, mother to child during birth, transfusion of infected blood, and the use of infected syringes. HIV can go undiagnosed for an extended period of time and you would probably have to do specific tests like ELISA and Western Blot for a conclusive diagnosis. These tests detect antibodies that the body makes when infected with HIV. A person infected with HIV may not show any visible symptoms of the infection and can appear healthy for years.

Once a person is infected with HIV, it attacks the CD4 cells in the body and uses them to multiply itself. The virus thrives on the genetic make up of the CD4 cells and makes it the host in the process destroying it. The CD4 cell also known as the T cell is an important part of the immune system. As the virus multiplies it damages the CD4 and renders the immune system incapable of fighting off illnesses which it would normally do. So in theory HIV does not affect the body, it destroys the immune system leaving the body prone to attack from other harmful bacteria and viruses. To be precise lymphocytes which make up most of the white blood cells which protect us from germs and diseases are destroyed by HIV.

Short-Term Effects of HIV

There are several short term effects of HIV which can go unnoticed or are attributed to other diseases or infections. Since HIV affects the immune system it can leave it susceptible to attack from bacteria and viruses. People will also experience mouth and throat problems, for example they will get lesions in the mouth and will find it difficult to swallow and chew stuff. One of the other common symptoms of HIV is the swelling of the lymph glands which can be discomforting. Persistent headaches are also attributed to HIV infection however, there are various reasons behind getting headaches in regular intervals.

Long-Term effects of HIV

One of the visible long term effects of HIV is weight loss, infected people will experience unexplained weight loss. A low white blood cell count is one of the indicators of an advanced stage of HIV and this means a weak immune system. White spots on the tongue and lesions in the mouth are some of the painful and visible symptoms at this stage. A person may also develop cancer and inflammation of the liver which can be fatal. A person infected with HIV goes on to develop AIDS which is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is fatal as till date there is no known cure. Some of the other long term effects are sudden breakout of high fever and blurred vision. Due to a weak immune system the person will be susceptible to different infections and diseases.

It is advisable that if you suspect that you might have contracted HIV to go in for test. Just remember to test yourself first after 12 weeks from the last incidence of plausible contraction and again after 24 weeks as there is a window period for the antibodies to develop.